africa

Somali national blames South African government for Soweto looting spree


Widespread chaos and looting in Soweto is the result of government’s ‘fake food’ announcement, says a Somalian national, who was caught up in the violence.

Violent protests erupted in the White City precinct of Soweto on Wednesday afternoon. Without warning, hundreds of angry community members descended on Spaza shops owned by foreign nationals, looting goods and destroying property.

‘Government put our lives at risk’ – Somali national

Times Live interviewed one of the shop owners, on condition of anonymity. The Somali national was helping his fellow compatriots pack up shop in Diepkloof, in anticipation of a police escort out of the tense township.

The shop owner stressed that the violent behaviour witnessed on the streets of Soweto was a direct result of the government’s public announcement on foreign nationals supplying ‘fake’ expired goods to community members.

The Somalian national added that before the official announcement, relations between shop owners and community members were amicable, saying:

“People are right [for being angry]. There is a law‚ there is a government. If the government has opened the way [through announcing the investigation] what will happen? You and me we don’t have a problem. The problem in South Africa is the government.”

Earlier in the week, the African National Congress (ANC) released an official statement, penned by spokesperson Pule Mabe, on the contentious topic of unscrupulous vendors supplying illicit goods, which may endanger the health and wellbeing of consumers.

Three people killed during the looting

While Mabe noted that ensuring the health and safety of South African citizens was a top priority, he urged community members not to take the law into their own hands, saying:

“The health and wellbeing of our people are of primary concern to the ANC. The fact that this is leading to instability and violence is a disturbing development.

Some are beginning to take the law into their own hands and are conducting their own inspection, manhandling suspects and destroying what they find to be expired and allegedly fake food products.

We call on the people not to take the law into their own hands and further encourage them to report such incidences to relevant authorities.”

Exacerbating already inflamed tensions; a bystander was shot and killed by a foreign national shop owner during the upheaval. According to reports, a shop owner fired into the crowd, hoping to disperse the looters – instead, the bullet struck a young shopper who was not part of the furore.

This killing enraged community members; further fanning the violent flames of xenophobia.

The chaos leaves in its wake; at least three people dead, and more than 12 community members arrested.





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